Jeanne-Françoise Fremyot was born on 23 January 1572 in Dijon. Her father was the president of the parliament of the Duchy of Burgundy. Her mother died when she was one year old, and Jane was raised by her aunt. Her father gave her a good religious education. In 1592, she married the Baron of Chantal, with whom she had six children, two of whom died in infancy, Jane was an exemplary mother and wife, and was devoted to the service of the poor. When her husband died in a hunting accident in 1601, Jane was resigned and fulfilled her state duty with humility by developing her spiritual life.
In 1604, she went on a Lent retreat with the bishop of Annecy, the future Saint Francis of Sales. Joan recognized him as the spiritual leader she needed, and he became her guide. Gradually, Jane turned to religious life. Together with Saint Francis de Sales, she founded the Order of the Visitation of Saint Mary in 1610 in Annecy and became the first visiting sister. Jane and François exchanged correspondence for eighteen years that constitutes a masterpiece of French and religious literature, these two souls were united by an exceptional friendship. Through her religious life, Jane gradually detached herself from material goods and affections, visited the sick, and finally pronounced her vows in 1616. Mother Jane traveled throughout France to oversee the building of monasteries, and continued to create new ones, spreading the Salesian spirituality. After the death of Saint Francis in 1622, Jane had to face notoriety, but she remained humble and at the service of the sick. Over the course of her spiritual growth, Jane was beset by increasingly strong temptations. After preparing, Jane died holy on December 13th, 1641 in Moulins. Jane of Chantal was canonized on July 16th, 1767 and celebrated on 12 August.
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The foundation of the Order of Visitation in 1610 was the joint work of Jane of Chantal and François de Sales. The mission of this new institute of religious life was to "give to God daughters of prayer, however inward, they may be found worthy to worship him in spirit and in truth" (Saint Francis de Sales). During the life of Mother Jane of Chantal, the order grew rapidly; there were 13 monasteries in 1622 and 87 in 1641, the most famous being that of Paray-le-Monial, which became a great sanctuary. It was into this order that Saint Margaret-Mary Alacoque, who received the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, entered in 1671. Today there are monasteries of the Visitation on 4 continents.
Saint Jane of Chantal is proclaimed patroness of mothers and widows, as well as of the forgotten and those deprived of justice. She intercedes especially for these people. The novena to Saint Jane of Chantal is a beautiful way to invite her intercession.
Prayer of Jane of Chantal: the act of abandonment
O sovereign goodness of the sovereign providence of my God, I am left in your arms forever;
Either you be meek or meek, lead me henceforth whither you please.
I will not look on the ways where you lead me, but you, O my God, who lead me.
My heart findeth no rest out of the arms and bosom of this heavenly Providence, my true mother, my strength, and my rampart;
Therefore I resolve, with your divine help, O my Savior, to follow your desires and ordinances without ever looking where to peel the causes why you do this rather than that,
But with closed eyes I will follow you according to your divine will without seeking my own taste;
It is to this end that I resolve to leave everything to God, mingling only with myself to rest in his arms, without desiring anything, only as he will incite me to desire, to desire and to desire.
I offer you this desire, O my God, begging you to bless him, taking it all on your goodness, generosity and mercy, in total trust in you and mistrust of me and of my infinite misery and infirmity.